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The Gambia: New chamber of commerce to rejig country’s trade efforts

Published date:
Saturday, 29 May 2010

The establishment of the American Chamber of Commerce in The Gambia has been described as an important step in facilitating improved trade and investment sector in the country.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the ACC, its executive chairperson, Sylvia Grace George expressed hope that the chamber will be an inspiring and practical institution for The Gambia and the United States, noting that it will build a spirit of enterprise and co-operation in making sure that the objectives of the United States Embassy in The Gambia to boost and improve ties between Banjul and Washington DC do not go in vain.

According to her, the ACC will seek the interest of its members by providing all the necessary information and services needed with the help of the Agricultural Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the use of the West African Trade Hub as their source to help enhance the country’s ability to attract foreign investments, especially from the United States.

While noting that the Gambia Chamber of Commerce will always be prepared to provide the necessary training, equal opportunities on various business ventures between Banjul and Washington DC, Mrs George said the American Chamber of Commerce will “look into all difficulties and address them systematically in the exporting and importing of goods and services in quest to promote the best relationship the two countries.

“The increase of standard will be our main focus, especially with the fishing and other seafood industry which has a potential market in the United States,” she promised.

She further expressed her firm belief that they can cultivate a spirit of enterprise by utilising talents and knowledge to build up a nation for success and national pride.

While thanking the United States ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency Mr. Barry Wells and the Embassy’s Political and Diplomatic officer, Ms. Tashawna Bethea for their efforts in inaugurating the Chambers, she said the newly inaugurated chamber is evidence and another proof amongst many of the significant contributions and efforts of the US Embassy in The Gambia.

She then assured the US ambassador that the ACC will live up to expectations, as she commended the Embassy for being the backbone of ACC.

Also speaking at the event, the United States Ambassador in The Gambia, Ambassador Barry Wells noted that through the new chamber, Banjul and Washington DC are about to improve international trade opportunities, profits, and investment. According to him, the private sector is the driving force behind economic development and sustainability of any country.

“Here at the US Embassy, we have been steering our efforts to promote trade and investment between our two countries and part of that strategy was to develop the presence of an American Chamber of Commerce here in The Gambia. In November 2009, the U.S. State Department announced that our request for an ACC in The Gambia had been approved. Today we are pleased to see that our collective efforts were not in vain as we officially open the ACC office,” he said. Mr. Wells further described a chamber of commerce as a voluntary partnership of business and professional people working together to build a healthy economy and to improve the quality of life in a community.

He noted that there are more than 7,000 chambers, boards of trade, and designated nonprofit organizations advancing the interests of their communities in the United States. “ACCs are involved in a range of issues from health care, to transportation, education and workforce development. A chamber is uniquely qualified to be a focal point for this collaborative effort and to effect positive change for businesses and communities,” he said.

He said chambers of commerce are often times more effective at mobilizing efforts to push investment and trade than government organizations, adding that the ACC can help promote both exports and imports and is a channel through which many lucrative business relationships are formed. The Ambassador further said that the chamber can be the driving force behind the expansion and growth of the economy, tourism and investment, and that the intention of the US Embassy is to attract more American businesses to The Gambia and provide a portal for communication and development of commercial interests. This, he said, is an opportunity for The Gambia to showcase its potential and begin competing heavily with other West African nations.

“We have identified four American companies in country: The Sheraton, UPS, MoneyGram, and Western Union as members of the Executive Committee of the future ACC but the ACC is not only for US companies, it is for any company; big corporate body or SME that has interest in doing business with the US,” he said.

Mr. Wells further observed that there are great investment opportunities in The Gambia, noting for example that there is the need for a local juice production company that will take advantage of all the mangos on the ground every summer. He also mentioned the need for a packaging company that will allow for proper packaging and presentation of local products. He also challenged the private sector to open a nutrition testing lab that will allow products to be exported to the United States, noting that the establishment of the chamber is just the beginning of the private sector opportunities as they have the aviation sector, the cashew sector, local music, fisheries and many more to explore.

The Ambassador further expressed his confidence the chamber will be a vibrant one that will invite a number of opportunities under AGOA and other incentives to take hold in The Gambia. He concluded by encouraging Gambians to take the chamber as their own chamber, noting that once they become member, the chamber is as much their chamber as it is theirs. He also encouraged all to contribute their time and expertise to make the chamber a successful one.

For his part, Bai Matarr Drammeh, president of the GCCI promised GCCI support to the ACC, noting that they will collaborate as partners in development. He further urged Gambians to take full advantage of the ACC. He commended Ambassador Barry L Wells and his staff, describing them as being genuinely committed to the development of The Gambia, especially in the investment sector.

The chamber is located along the Kairaba Avenue, opposite the Standard Chartered Bank building.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of The Gambia's bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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